(The Sports Xchange) - David Johnson ran the Arizona Cardinals back to the .500 mark.
The second-year running back rushed for three touchdowns and 111 yards, and the Cardinals won their second straight, beating the sliding New York Jets 28-3 on Monday.
Johnson, who carried 22 times, scored on runs of 58, 2 and 2 yards to become the first back to rush for three touchdowns against the Jets since LeSean McCoy did it in 2011.
Johnson’s eight rushing touchdowns lead the league. Four players are tied for second with six apiece.
The win vaulted the Cardinals (3-3) into a second-place tie with the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West, 1 1/2 games behind the Seattle Seahawks. The Jets (1-5) lost their fifth straight, leaving them alone in last place in the AFC East.
“I was very pleased with the way this game went,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. “I thought all three phases played smart and fast. We had one little lapse with a couple penalties, but coming up with the (two) turnovers was big. I thought this was a heck of a defense to run the ball against, and I thought we accomplished that.”
Carson Palmer returned to his role as the Cardinals’ starting quarterback after missing the previous game because of a concussion. He finished 23 of 34 for 213 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Palmer left the game in the fourth quarter, however, with what the team announced as a strained hamstring. He was replaced by backup Drew Stanton. Afterward, Palmer said he was just experiencing some cramping because he was dehydrated. It happened, he said, because the Cardinals were on the field for so long during three long scoring drives.
“The way we ran the ball against that rush defense was incredible,” Palmer said, particularly praising Arizona’s two new starting guards, John Wetzel and Earl Watford.
“(We are) down two starters on the front, (and the Jets) are really, really good up front in the run game. I think they’re No. 1 or 2 in the league in rush defense, and we ran the ball extremely effectively. Don’t think we had a sack all day; just an unbelievable job up front.”
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, returning to his home state, completed 16 of 31 passes for 174 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. The pick, Fitzpatrick’s league-leading 11th of the season, was a critical one, too.
It came with the Jets moving the chains well during a long, time-consuming drive toward the end of the third quarter. On third-and-7 from the Cardinals 14-yard line, a pass intended for Brandon Marshall was intercepted by Arizona safety D.J. Swearinger.
The interception helped protect a 21-3 lead, and the Cardinals converted their 13th forced turnover into a touchdown.
Palmer directed a 14-play, 89-yard drive that consumed 7:26, capping it with a 9-yard scoring pass to Michael Floyd. It was the third touchdown reception of the year for Floyd, who has had trouble with dropped passes.
Jets coach Todd Bowles, who spent two seasons with the Cardinals as their defensive coordinator under head coach Bruce Arians, lifted Fitzpatrick with 8:40 left in the game and replaced him with Geno Smith.
It was the first time this season that Fitzpatrick did not finish a game.
Smith was 4 of 6 for 31 yards and no touchdowns. His sixth pass was intercepted by Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu. The Cardinals are now tied with the Chiefs for the most interceptions in the league (nine).
Editing by Ian Rodricks/Peter Rutherford